Cat hasn’t lost his ability to charm readers, if for no other reason than children are so able to see themselves in him.

READ REVIEW

HERE COMES VALENTINE CAT

From the Here Comes… series

Underwood’s endearing, voiceless cat is back, this time getting a lesson in Valentine’s Day tact.

Using signs and props to communicate with an off-page, unseen, seemingly adult figure, Cat first establishes that he doesn’t like Valentine’s Day. It gradually comes out that, other than his stuffed squid, he has no friends. Just then, the conversation is interrupted by a bone, thrown over the fence by Cat’s new neighbor, Dog, and it’s not the first bone he’s thrown, either. Cat, being Cat, jumps to conclusions, especially after a thrown ball clobbers him. “Cat, what are you up to? // You are going to give Dog a valentine? // Oh, dear.” That about sums it up. Needless to say, the Roses are Red… poems Cat comes up with are not very tactful. But his construction of a rocket (to send Dog to the moon, of course) is interrupted by a valentine that flutters down and lands on its tip. Perhaps Dog isn’t the mean, awful neighbor Cat took him to be? Maybe he’s even a potential friend. Rueda masterfully uses white space and Cat’s facial expressions and body language to play up the emotions, exploiting the expansive page count for beautifully pitched comic timing.

Cat hasn’t lost his ability to charm readers, if for no other reason than children are so able to see themselves in him. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42915-9

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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